Images from the Game Camera, Part 2

Our game camera has captured plenty of daytime images but what interests me the most are the images captured at night. During the daytime, I frequently see the squirrels and birds that frequent our yard during the daylight hours. Below are a few images captured at night.

We occasionally see Eastern cottontails in our yard during the day but I had hoped the presence of Lizzie in our yard would scare off the rabbits. However, the amount of images of rabbits captured by the game camera made me realize the real party is at night!

A picture of an Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) investigating a log.

Prior to the erection of our fence, nighttime sightings of raccoons were a regular enough occurrence that I thought nothing of it. After our fence went up and we saw no raccoons during the day, I naively hoped they were not frequenting our yard. The image below informed me that they were still visiting our yard, even if only on an irregular basis.

A picture of a raccoon (Procyon lotor)
A raccoon (Procyon lotor) walking away from the game camera.

Prior to our putting up our fence, a red fox made regular rounds through our yard. On one occasion, I saw it lift its leg and piss on our garage. I also found the remains of several rabbits under shrubs and bushes that, I assume, belong to the fox. I thought that maybe the fence would dissuade the fox from entering our yard. Apparently, that is not true. Hopefully, the fox will eat the rabbits that have been frequenting our yard.

A picture of a red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) hunting in our yard.

Images from the Game Camera, Part 1

I bought a game camera with the hope of recording the coming and going of a nesting pair of White-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) that were nesting in one of our nest boxes. For various reasons, that didn’t work out to my satisfaction. Looking for a use for the game camera, I placed it in various locations in our yard to discover what it might record. Below are a few images captured by it.

As expected in east central Minnesota, there are plenty of Eastern Gray Squirrels to be photographed.

A picture of an Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
An Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) looking for lunch on our patio.

Another frequent visitor to our yard is the American robin, often with an eye towards the ground, looking for worms to eat. While gardening, I place any grubs I find on a stump for birds to eat. Robins are usually the first to snatch them up.

A picture of an American robin (Turdus migratorius)
An American robin (Turdus migratorius) foraging in our yard.

The Chipping Sparrow is a regular summer-time resident. I frequently see them hopping through the grass, looking for seeds and insects. They appear to be fairly bold birds, approaching within a few feet of Lizzie. Lizzie, for the most part, ignores them preferring to hunt for rodents.

A picture of a chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina)
A chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina) foraging for insects and seeds.

Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

While looking through photographs captured by my game camera, I was surprised to see that it had photographed an Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit early one morning before sun rise.

A picture of an Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit
An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit hopping through our yard.
A picture of an Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit.
An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) eating seed.
A picture of an An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit
The Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) rabbit leaving after eating seed.

Whitey the Squirrel

The summer of 2013, we shared our yard with an white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) that we called Whitey. White and black squirrels are morphs of the Eastern Gray Squirrel. Unless they have pink eyes, white squirrels are not albino.

A picture of a white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) eating a nut
A white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) eating a nut.

Whitey had balance issues. He never seemed capable of running in a straight line. As he ran, he would veer to the right. He would then stop, correct his direction, and start running again, only to veer to the right. He also had issues staying upright on his hindquarters while eating. He often tipped over.

A picture of a white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) digging for nuts.
A white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) digging for nuts.

His being white was a marked disadvantage when it came to escaping predators. The local hawks often hunted him. We did our best to protect him by chasing off the hawks by throwing rocks at them. Unfortunately, Whitey lived with us only a year before he disappeared. I suspect a hawk got him despite our efforts to protect him.

A picture of a white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) digging around under shrubs
A white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) digging around under shrubs.

We often found Whitey eating and digging under the shrubs next to our side patio.

A picture of a white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
A white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
A picture of a white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
A white Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) hanging out with a Tiki.

Lizzie and the Clumsy Eastern Gray Squirrel

Lizzie enjoys chasing Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) around the yard. Most times she is not close nor fast enough to be more than a nuisance to the squirrels. That is, until this morning.

Lizzie was laying down inside the door off of our living room. We have a magnetic screen door to allow easy egress while keeping out insects such a mosquitos. She was laying justing inside the screen door, watching for squirrels when she saw one crossing the yard from one tree to another. Leaping into action, she sprung from her spot and ran across the yard at full speed.

Despite being a fast dog, Lizzie normally poses no threat to gray squirrels. And like previous times, she wasn’t a real threat to this squirrel. The squirrel easily made it to a tree and scaled it to get out of reach of Lizzie.

This time, events played out unexpectedly. The squirrel fell out of the tree.

It fell out of the tree, landing on the ground in front of Lizzie. Lizzie looked at me with a quizzical look, as if to ask, “What should I do?”

The squirrel quickly righted itself and ran towards a different tree. Lizzie reacted quickly and gave chase. At this point, the squirrel was in desperate straits. When it attempted to climb another tree, Lizzie leaped and pulled it down. Lizzie chased the squirrel around the tree several times before the squirrel tried to run for the fence. Alas for the squirrel, that was its fatal mistake, for Lizzie easily ran it down and caught it.

After catching the squirrel and tossing it around a few times, it was clear that Lizzie didn’t know what to do with the squirrel. This resulted in a wounded squirrel that probably would not survive on its own. I put it out of its suffering by executing a cervical dislocation to sever its spinal cord.

Thus is the story of the first squirrel caught by Lizzie.

Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis)

A few years ago, I was clearing a garden of debris when I was startled by movement. To my surprise, I had disturbed a Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis).

Picture of prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis)
Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis)

Prairie skink prefer sandy soils and open grasslands with loose soil so that they can construct their burrows. Our soil is mess of clay, sand, rocks, and humus and can become quite hard when it dries out. I usually see the skink in or near our gardens. Perhaps my working the soil in the gardens has created enough loose soil to provide a suitable habitat for the skink.

Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Every few years, usually in the spring, a wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) will wander through the yard. Occasionally, they make their way over to our back patio where they help themselves to water from the bird bath or black oil sunflower seeds scattered on the pavement below the bird feeder.

Back in May, 2009, this turkey wandered through and helped itself to a drink.

Picture of a wild turkey drinking from the bird bath

Picture of a wild turkey walking through the yard